Power To the People



By Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog. January 2nd, 2013

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At a Brady Center event to "Prevent Gun Violence by Jodie Foster Fans from Accidentally Hitting White House Press Secretaries in the Head" the Brady Center Legal Action Project Director asked retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens whether having a right to a cell phone might be a more universal form of self-defense than gun ownership.

"Maybe you have some kind of constitutional right to have a cell phone with a predialed 911 number at your bedside, and that might provide you with a little better protection than a gun, which you're not used to using," Justice Stevens mumbled.

Stevens, who often seemed unclear on the difference between a right and an entitlement, had a point. Why bother waiting for the laborious process of using a gun, when you can instantly dial 911 and wait twenty minutes while being murdered for the police to arrive.

There still is no Constitutional right to a cell phone, but you're already paying into a Universal Service Fund that does just that, providing cell phones to any and all, courtesy of Lebanese-Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's company, who, when he isn't making high interest loans to the New York Times, shovels prepaid government cell phones into the ghetto.

Gun control advocates have been digging away at the pesky 2nd Amendment for a while now. Their trouble with it is that guns are loud and make big bangs when they go off and enable the peasants to resist when their betters decide that they should be moved off their land. But the true trouble is that gun ownership is an individual right. And they don't believe in individual rights, their gospel is group rights.

If the 2nd Amendment assigned the right to bear arms to each racial group by degree of persecution, they would find it much more acceptable no matter what the annual death toll was. An LGBT 2nd Amendment would float their boat. An amendment that treats it as an individual right, rather than a group right, does not.

Justice Stevens and the Legal Director of the "Brady Project to Build a Time Machine, Travel in Time and Convince Jodie Foster to Drop Acting and Open a Baskin Robbins Franchise" were pondering how to make an individual right fair by universalizing it and redistributing it into a group right.

Some people have guns and others don't. But everyone can have a government mandated right to a cell phone... except perhaps the Amish, and their time is coming. Why the average Amish farm uses child labor and doesn't provide its child laborers with health plan coverage for birth control and abortion, and its barns aren't raised to OSHA standards.

If you assume that rights belong to the group, rather than the individual, then predialed cell phones are a better solution than guns. Just push 1 if you're being murdered, 2 if you're being raped, 3 if your house is being set on fire and 4 if you just realized that your health plan doesn't provide abortion coverage on all major legal holidays and 5 if your next door neighbor is having a Jodie Foster movie marathon at ear-splitting volume at two in the morning.

The police may not get there in time, but they will get there to government specifications and will take action in line with municipal, state and federal policies that are formed in deference to group rights. With 911, the policy hand is strong with the government. With the 2nd Amendment, the balance of power is with the homeowner watching a shadow moving up his staircase.

Governments can issue a directive for how many arrests of how many people they want to see, based on type of crime and race. And that is the kind of enforcement you will get through 911, backed by Federal grants to local communities and Department of Justice lawsuits. Whether or not the police officer will be there in ten minutes or twenty, whether he will even take your statement or just doodle something while you talk, depends on policies coming out of Washington D.C.

Group rights are centralized. They depend on weaponizing statistics to achieve some larger goal in the constellation of social justice whose dim star always hangs over Washington casting its baleful radiation down over all that marble, money and blight, group rights are the right to wait in a government line to find out whether your request will be filled or not based on your socioeconomic status, race, gender, transgender, sexual orientation and surfing abilities, and any gimmick that the latest Harvard faculty member slash White House adviser has decided to experiment with on your skin. And the line, in this case, happens to be the phone line to the 911 system, which will send someone to help you at a rate that depends on all the number juggling involving money, crime statistics and votes.

The 2nd Amendment is a very different creature. The controllers would like to turn it into a group right. Replace the home rifle with an IOU for membership in the National Guard or a cell phone from Carlos Slim that will allow you to dial 911, unless the dam breaks or the earth quakes or the service goes. And they would equally like to turn the 1st Amendment into a right to say the things that are socially beneficial, while outlawing speech that is not socially beneficial.

In Europe, free speech means speech that is in the public interest, not speech that undermines the public good. That latter kind of speech can get you a trip to a jail cell. And that is the only kind of speech that can exist in group rights. When the group comes first, then the individual is the last one on the line. When rights serve the group, or the idealized arrangement of groups meant to provide the perfect statistical balance between skin colors, genders, lack of genders, and choice of partners, then the individual has no rights except as a member of Team White, Team Black, Team Gay or Team Badly Confused.

A gun is an individual thing. It's hard for a group to own a gun. You can give Team Gay, Team Union or Team Korean Men in Wheelchairs a cell phone link to a central network of law enforcement support services, but a gun is a thing that an individual buys and learns to use. It is not a network, but an object, its power does not come from pushbutton access to a plea for government aid, but from the skill and courage of the individual. Gun power is merit based.

Effectively using freedom of speech, of religion, of protest or the press has become more difficult in an age where all four tend to be vested or barred by massive institutions. You can still start your own blog, your own religion, your own protest rally or your own printing press in a shed out back, but your ability to effectively make use of them in defense of your own interests is likely to be limited. But when the door breaks down, then you do not need permission or access to large institutions to defend yourself or your family courtesy of the 2nd Amendment. And that is what infuriates group rightists about the 2nd Amendment. Its function does not require their consent or approval. It does not even require their notice. It just is.

There is no conflict between the 1st and 2nd Amendment as loudmouths like Piers Morgan have been complaining of late. There is a conflict between a 2nd Amendment made use of by individuals and a 1st Amendment that has been thoroughly colonized by institutions and corporations that believe in the rights of the group, not the rights of the individual. David Gregory's belief that he was immune from the law because he was acting as a media agenda spokesman is just another reminder that the institutions that have colonized the 1st Amendment consider themselves in all regards above the law.

In an age of group rights, the Fourth Estate is claiming the special status that it is entitled to. But under the 2nd Amendment there are no estates, no groups that are more or less entitled to defend themselves, and no individuals with more or less claim on the right to own a firearm because of their race, religion, gender, bed partner, class or cleverness. It is a right of the people, back when the rights of the people referred to the people as a whole, not some idealized urban peasantry living off welfare checks or a coalition of official victim groups whose tears count more than those of anyone else.

In its purest form, the people means everyone. It means a nation of individuals who are not broken down into any other group and whose rights are not allocated from any secondary source. The left spends a great deal of time shouting, "Power to the People", but the 2nd Amendment with its sharp statement, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" is a literal invocation of power to the people. A people who are not designated as such by any category other than their peoplehood.

The left shouts "Power to the People", but doesn't truly mean it. It would like to replace Power to the People with Predialed Cell Phones to the People and Lines at Government Offices to the People and Write to Your Local Congressman to the People.

The people aren't supposed to have guns, they're supposed to have government on speed dial. The people aren't supposed to have power, they're supposed to have a hand out to the government which will decide whether to help them or not based on its own priorities. And if the help doesn't arrive, then they can shout "Power to the People" outside government offices and demand that the rich people give more money to the government so that it can help them faster.

The Director of the "Brady Legal Project to Give James Brady a Cybernetic Body Made of Titanium So He Can Destroy All Guns Everywhere" asked the retired Supreme Court Justice, "The Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment assures our right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense as you say. This question's asked: ‘That protects only gun owners. What about those who don't have guns? Surely they have a right of self-defense. Instead of relying on the 2nd Amendment and dealing with gun laws, wouldn't it be more rational to rely directly on the right we all have to self-defense."

Like all gun control proposals, it would be rational. Just as it was rational in the USSR to move all the farmers to collective farms in order to increase wheat production and just as it was rational for China to protect crop yields by killing all sparrows and just as it was rational to bail out the banks and then spend billions more stimulating the economy. Putting all your eggs in one centrally planned basket is rational. It's also stupid. Rational is not the same thing as right and it's certainly not the same thing as individual rights.

The Constitution is not rational. Not in the sense that word is used by the modernist technocracy, the worshipers at the altar of progress, who deem a thing rational if it can be used to social control their way to utopia. It holds instead to the irrational idea that power should be vested in the individual and that fairness comes from respecting individual rights, rather than from feudal structures that rely on government to level all the playing fields and all the heads.

It holds to the irrational idea that a man has rights, apart from his group or even from the public good, and that these rights are innate, that governments may take them away physically, but never morally. And it holds to the stranger notion still that individual rights become universalized through individual power rather than government power. And from these premises it determines that the people shall have power, while from their premises the gun controllers determine that the people shall have a place on a government line. From these premises it determines that the people shall be armed and from their premises the gun controllers determine that each man, woman and child shall have the right to spend the last 30 seconds of their life begging the government to save them.

Daniel Greenfield is a blogger and columnist born in Israel and living in New York City. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a contributing editor at Family Security Matters.

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